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firehinge2The newest edition of the National Fire Protection Association standard, NFPA 80 2019, regulates the installation and maintenance of fire doors used to prevent the spread of fire and smoke within, into, or out of buildings. The regulations continue to mandate annual inspections to meet local building, fire or life safety codes. Passing the inspection is especially important to hospitals and health care facilities that are accredited by The Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a critical factor in receiving Medicare reimbursements. Also, many insurance companies require NFPA 80 compliance before they underwrite commercial buildings.

Here’s what inspectors look for … and how you can prevent your fire doors from failing.

Fire Door Inspection

  • Look for holes or breaks on the door surface or frame then repair them.
  • If the door is so equipped, inspect glazing, vision light frames and glazing beads. Make sure they are intact.
  • Check that the door, frame, hinges, hardware and non-combustible threshold are secure, aligned and in working order.
  • Inspect for missing, defective or broken parts and fix. Common red flags during inspections are latch bolts and/or strike plates, closer arms and cover plates.
  • With the door closed, measure clearances around the perimeter of the door and make sure they do not exceed clearances listed in NFPA 80 2019: 4.8.4 and 6.3.1. Make adjustments to comply.
  • Open the door fully and confirm that the self-closing device completely closes and latches the door. Adjust the device to get full closure.
  • If a coordinator is installed, confirm that the inactive leaf closes before the active leaf. If your maintenance department only stocks active doors you may have paired two active doors together which can create an out-of-compliance gap. The more costly solution is to replace the second active door with an inactive door. The less costly solution is to install a concealed mount geared continuous hinge (recommendations below).
  • Look for and uninstall field-installed, non-compliant, non-fire-rated hardware items that interfere or prohibit fire door operation or closure (may include deadbolts, barrel bolts, kick-down door stops, etc.). Repair any holes in compliance with NFPA 80.
  • Verify the presence and integrity of any required meeting edge protection, smoke gasket, etc. Confirm that the gasketing does not interfere with the operation of the fire door. In compliance with NFPA 80, replace or repair gasketing as needed. Verify, too, that the top edge of the kick plate is not more than 16 inches from the bottom of the door (refer to NFPA 80 for kickplate compliance regulations).
  • Confirm that signage affixed to the door is attached with adhesive; screws are never allowed. This signage cannot exceed five percent of the door surface.

Money-saving Tip: If your fire doors are out of compliance … don’t throw out the door … throw out the hinges.

When you have an inspection on your calendar, you often feel pressured to replace any fire doors that are out of compliance with new ones. That may be an expensive, unnecessary choice. The cause of the problems often aren’t the fault of the door, but the hinges.
Many fire doors, especially in healthcare facilities, are often installed with low-cost, swing-clear butt hinges. These hinges are rarely robust enough to handle high-traffic entryways. They require frequent adjustment and replacement. But there is a long-term solution.

Install a SELECT geared continuous hinge before the inspector comes and your door will comply for decades.

Whether you are building a new facility or trying to eliminate out-of-code fire door problems geared continuous hinges are often the best solution. But not all geared continuous hinges are engineered to last as long as SELECT hinges.

  • SELECT hinges are rated 90 minutes out of the box. If a 3-hour fire rating is required, SELECT offers this option at an extra cost. Hinges with the extended rating can withstand extreme conditions, including negative and positive pressure, without requiring a fire pin to hold the hinge in place.
  • Proven to withstand a 25-million open/close cycle test. Passing this rigorous test is your assurance that when you install a SELECT hinge you can expect minimal variance between the doors and frames for 60 years. This is why SELECT Hinges backs its hinge performance with the industry’s only Continuous Warranty™. Barring other types of damage or missing parts, the door is likely to maintain the clearances it had when it was installed and pass inspections for decades.
  • Retrofit your existing fire doors with SELECT SL57, SL11 or SL21.
    • Bring out-of-alignment doors back into compliance with the SL57 full surface mount geared continuous hinge.
    • Fill in gaps on excessively undersized doors, especially on paired doors, with the SL11 concealed mount geared continuous hinge. You will be able to move a door over as much as one-quarter inch.
    • Doors that are out of compliance with swing-clear butt hinges may also be brought back into compliance by replacing the butt hinges with a full surface, swing-clear, fire-rated, SELECT SL21 continuous gear hinge. This hinge will fix the gap-problem for good.


Make sure your next fire door inspection goes smoothly by following this checklist. Then contact your SELECT representative to talk about how installing the right hinge can give you worry-free fire door inspections for decades. Future maintenance managers will thank you long after you retire!


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